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Fintech: an update on a major growth area in Singapore

Fintech is an important and growing sector in financial services across the globe. Earlier this month saw the return of the Singapore Fintech Festival and our Head of Singapore Adnan Maddix was in attendance, taking note of the challenges facing the sector in the months ahead.

Data Governance, Cloud Services and Cyber Security were said to be the three main focal points of the new age with buzzwords such as AI, The Cloud, Blockchain, APIs, data and advanced analytics becoming more commonplace across financial services.

Security is an important factor in the consumer’s decision-making process and banks are under pressure to offer rapidly developing, competitive products and services profitably while complying with regulation and protecting against cyber and financial crime. Unlike traditional banks, many areas of fintech are beyond regulation and they have to establish their own parameters in which to work.

Data Governance

A lot of emphasis is going to be put on businesses to make sure their customer data is protected against fraud. Matthew Chung, Managing Director and the Global Head of Technology and Information Risk at Morgan Stanley talked about the importance of earning trust. Firms have a responsibility to inform their consumers where their data is held and how it is protected, making sure they have full confidence in the steps taken.

Cyber Security

We, like Loren Bushkar, Managing Director in Global Membership for the Institute of International Finance (IIF) have seen a shift in Risk Analyst’s focus away from regulation to cyber security. While they have access to useful technology and frameworks so do the cyber criminals. John Nai, Chief Information Security Officer for PayPal said that because of this their period of effectiveness has gone from years to days, even hours and that security was an “arms race”.

Practices such as: simplifying the cyber infrastructure to improve “repeatability and recoverability”, getting basics such as staff training right, having excellent change management execution, good system checks, sharing information within the industry and having board-level buy-in were all ‘human’ elements cited as being able to aid the fight against cyber-attacks.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is playing a growing role and fintech firms have the upper hand in understanding how technology can address issues and get the solutions in place quickly. Banks will benefit from partnering with fintech companies in the fight to be more technologically advanced and equipped than the attackers. One silver lining to come from the increasing and varying attacks is that with each one, comes an opportunity to gain intelligence and use that to help develop defenses.

Jennifer Calvery, Global Head, Financial Crime Threat Mitigation at HSBC highlighted the importance of using financial data in the fight against cyber-crime. She talked about their Intelligence-led solution which combines data analysis with artificial intelligence to generate data points. Analysing these, alongside support from the regulators has allowed them to build meaningful insights that could be shared with financial crime law enforcement.


Increasingly, traditional banking is seeking fintech innovation to remain competitive in the modern day. This drive for continuous improvement is promoting high performing services within the industry and security must be at the heart of it.

There are calls for regulators to adapt more quickly to the change and collaborate with other regulators to ease the complexity of international firms working across multiple jurisdictions. Richard Teng, CEO of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority, Abu Dhabi Global Market said that regulators must act as an ‘ecosystem developer’.

The Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN) supports coordination of regulators and therefore innovation across borders. They talked about global sandboxes creating a structured platform for participants to collaborate with global regulators.


People are key to this change and development.

There was discussion about the difficulty of hiring and retaining talent and Cheng Li, CTO and COO of Ant Financial said that companies need to develop global partnerships but leverage local talent to succeed.

Myles Hosford, Head of Security & Compliance for APAC, Amazon Web Services also highlighted the role of recruitment saying that it was important to engage governance teams early in technological development to establish what requirements there are and to what extent they need to re-skill or hire.

As a head-hunter specialising in the governance area we work hard to identify and build relationships with the most talented candidates in the field. For anyone worried that the risk, compliance and financial crime market is slowing down, that simply isn’t correct. The landscape is changing, and our candidates are developing and adapting with it.

It is clear to see that many firms face changes in this area. If you would like our support, we can work with you to understand what you need and utilise our extensive network to match the best candidate to the role and the style of the organisation.